Going up against Disney’s big budget tale, “Maleficent,” MacFarlane’s sophomore live action effort only took in $17.1 million in its opening weekend. But having picked up another $10 million overseas, the film looks certain to surpass its $40 million production budget in the coming week. And, with Father’s Day coming up soon, I’m sure the good folks at Universal Studios will be happy enough with the returns when everything is said and done.
What make a film like “A Million Ways to Die in the West” so fun is that MacFarlane and the high-profile cast are perfectly willing to make fun of anything and everything… including themselves. Sure, other movies have gone that route. Some have done well, while others not so much. But where something like “Movie 43” failed so miserably, “A Million Ways” succeeds masterfully.
Just as in MacFarlane’s television staple, “Family Guy,” here there is pretty much nothing — and no one — off limits. And while MacFarlane’s version of the wild west is, well… pretty wild and not at all serious, it’s not intended to be. Drug use is rampant. Everyone, or at least everyone except Giovanni Ribisi’s sad sack character ‘Edward’ is having plenty of sex. A gruesome death awaits just about everyone. But, I suppose we should get ahold of ourselves and realize that the hippies didn’t invent sex and drugs in the 1960s. And, death was, in fact, just around the corner in the 1880s.
Albert is only sort of nerdy, because despite his relative shyness and self-deprecating attitude, he managed to land a gorgeous girlfriend and, at least according to the story, have his own share of sex.Albert also grabs the attention of newcomer Anna (Charlize Theron), and the two end up — quite predictably — falling for each other, despite the fact that Anna has been married to Clinch Leatherwood (Liam Neeson), the toughest and most ruthless outlaw in the territory, since she was nine years old (another snide reference to 19th century life).
Theron is clearly having a blast, as is Sarah Silverman, who plays Ribisi’s love interest… who happens to be a prostitute, who despite having sex with a dozen people a day, won’t have sex with her fiancé Edward until they’re married.
Neil Patrick Harris is perfectly cast as the arrogant town big shot who woos Albert’s ex-girlfriend (Amanda Seyfried) and generally makes a nuisance of himself. NPH also takes a key role in another of MacFarlane’s signature elements — a song and dance routine — this time to the glorification of that most coveted male accessory of the Civil War era… the moustache.
The only one who doesn’t seem to be having a whole lot of fun is Neeson, but we might be missing it because for Neeson, a smile tends to look a lot like a grimace.
I’m not going to get into spoilers here, because some of the gags and cultural references are just too funny to spoil for anyone who hasn’t seen the film yet. I’ll just say that I had a blast watching “A Million Ways to Die in the West.” Sure, it’s raunchy, but to expect anything less from Seth MacFarlane would be naive.
Oh, and stay until the very end of the credits. If you make it to the end of the film, it’s worth sitting for an extra couple of minutes to catch the closing bit.